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36: Viral Video 101 with the Content Queen Herself, Shay Rowbottom

Viral Video 101 with Shay Rowbottom - Business Breakthrough Podcast
If you want to make it on social media today, you need video. And if you REALLY want to make it, you need some viral video. I’m so grateful to the queen of viral video, Shay Rowbottom, who pulled back the curtain on how to create, title, caption and launch viral videos on platforms from Facebook to LinkedIn. If you were ever wondering what makes one thing go viral over another, this is a must listen.


My Guest: Shay Rowbottom

Shay Rowbottom is the COO and co-founder of Margle Media, a fast growing social-media marketing startup out of Milwaukee, that specializes in viral video creation. She originally dropped out of college to pursue her aspirations of becoming a musician, but after years struggling to make it and finding herself dissatisfied with her progress in the entertainment industry, she came across an opportunity to learn viral video editing for large blogs on Facebook.

Her life and business partner, Luke Marlowe, and her, first began scaling the model in their bedroom in downtown Milwaukee, Spring of 2016. They have since scaled the business to over 30 employees, servicing companies such as Petco and MGM providing social media marketing campaigns and daily video content for their social media pages.


Pivotal Moments:

Began her career in the music industry but lost interest and began phasing away from music in late 2015.
Started helping out Luke Marlowe – then a new entrepreneur and now her life and business partner – with basic video editing.
When Facebook changed their algorithm to focus on video, a friend of Luke employed them to edit videos for his Facebook vlog, landing them their first paid job, and also the opportunity to learn key skills about video promotion and virality.
Referrals from that first job secured them more clients and some real money from the video editing and promotion industry.
Eventually discontinued her music career completely since she was making more money editing viral videos.
Together with Luke, opened Margle Media with a five-man team in early 2017, and grew it to be a 30+ employee company with over one billion views of their content each month!


The Advice:

Today, every social media platform is pushing video, so learning how to shoot videos, tag and edit video is crucial for anyone looking to grow their business on social. Here is a guide to creating your first viral video with nothing more than a smartphone and a window:

1. Equipment

You don’t need to invest in any expensive equipment! All you need is your cellphone, a window to give natural light and a quiet place so that you are audible. Start by standing opposite the window so that the natural light brightens your face. Once you’ve got the lighting right, check the background that is visible in the shoot and arrange it properly.

2. Length

Videos that go viral need to be quick and “snackable”. When creating a video, remember that viewers will be deciding whether to devote the next few minutes of their time to watching your video. The shorter it is, the more likely they are to watch the whole thing.

Facebook Videos
Historically, viral videos are no longer than 60 seconds. However, Facebook recently introduced mid-roll ads into videos with a duration of over three minutes. Facebook is more likely to choose to promote videos with mid-roll ads since they are making money on them, meaning that it is more likely that these clips will go viral. If you do shoot a three-minute video with a mid-roll ad, make sure that your content is enticing enough that people will keep watching through the ad to see the end of your story.
Facebook have also recently been prioritizing videos that are posted to Facebook Watch over those uploaded to your feed.

Influencer Videos

To build yourself up as an influencer, you need to start with short videos, since you are still unknown and viewers are unlikely to watch for longer than 45 – 60 seconds. Once you have earned credibility and familiarity, then you can slowly build up the length of your videos, keeping it under two minutes for the first few months.

3. Captioning

A whopping 85% of people watch videos on social media without audio! So if you don’t caption your videos, you are losing 85% of your audience immediately. A quick Google search can bring up apps that will subtitle your videos. You might need to go over the captioning manually, but using an app can take off 80% of the work. Alternatively, you can caption them yourself using programs such as Adobe Premier with AfterEffects, Camtasia, Handbrake, iMovie and others.

4. Content

There are two types of content that really work in viral video:
  1. Vulnerability: If you are comfortable sharing your personal life with the public, you can share great content while connecting with people and giving them the opportunity to realize that most people are not perfect! Many people hesitate to share their vulnerabilities out of fear that it will impact on their stature and their ability to get more clients. Though business owners often prefer to focus their videos on the positive aspects of their businesses and lives, going against that grain will get you more eyes, as people are desperately looking for other real humans – imperfections and all.
  2. If you are not open to spilling your guts, and prefer to keep your videos more impersonal, focus your content on providing value. Don’t get caught up in your ideas – think about what the viewer wants to see and how your clip will benefit them. Think about videos that you have watched that provided value to you and figure out how to re-mix and share that message with your take on it with your audience.

5. Headline

The most important part of your content is the headline – the first 3-5 seconds. Starting with a powerful headline grabs attention, gets viewers excited and tempts them to stay and watch more. To make an effective headline, give the meat right away and let the user decide if they are going to give away the next few minutes of their life to watch your video. Don’t begin a video by introducing yourself – with your name, who you are, where you are and your job description because everyone will have gone on to the next thing before you start with your message.

6. Fluid Take
If you don’t want to have to record your video several times before you are happy with it, or you don’t want to spend an hour editing and cutting it up afterwards, follow these guidelines to learn how to do one fluid take:
  1. Come up with your headline and the second line. Rehearse it.
  2. Write bullets for the body of the video and then wing it so that you have a structure but you can still say what you really feel, and have it sound natural.
  3. End with a question engaging the audience, such as “What do you think about…?”

If you forgot to mention one point, maximize the video description to make that point when you post your video instead of re-recording the whole video again.


The Struggle:

Shay recently scaled her business from five to over thirty people. But now, instead of paddling a kayak where she could speed through the waters and control her entire company with the flick of an oar, she feels more like she is driving a steamboat where many different aspects need to be coordinated and managed to slowly maneuver the boat along. How can Shay keep operations moving efficiently so that she doesn’t collapse from trying to keep everything afloat using just her own memory and brain capacity?


The Breakthrough:

Shay needs to systemize and co-ordinate her business by building the following systems and processes:

Human Systems
Focusing on personal work flow such as email management and work/work balance, as well as personnel systems such as figuring out staffing roles and responsibilities and delegation – who does what, how and when.

Processes and Protocols
How things are done in her company.

Documentation and Filing
Informing her staff of where everything is stored and allowing easy access to the information they need.

Standardized Documentation
New businesses can typically afford to create custom proposals for each customer. As the business grows, proposals and documentation needs to be standardized for all customers with the option of a custom service for those willing to pay more.

Pricing Protocols
Setting clear rules and protocols for amount and timing of payments.


Employing professional help is often the best way to build these systems. It can be extremely difficult to take a step back from your own business to work out the best processes, systems and protocols. A professional will have the training and expertise as well as the benefit of an outside pair of eyes to help build the best systems for your business. (One of Strand’s offerings :))


Resources and Links:

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About the author, Estie Rand

I love turning ideas into money, and helping others do the same. I help small business owners with everything from marketing to fiscal management, business plans to staffing, database architecture to work/life balance coaching and I love it all! What do you need help with today?

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